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First of Brett Kavanaugh's accusers testifies as America's next culture war erupts

Christine Blasey Ford will give testimony to the Senate, and Brett Kavanaugh will have the chance to defend himself. Credit: AP

The Senate has witnessed many great legal and political dramas over recent decades. The Clinton impeachment process; the Watergate stand-off with Nixon in 1973; the searing Joe McCarthy hearings of 1954.

Today is likely to be another such moment. A TV spectacle that intersects with the #MeToo movement, that collides with the toxic partisan warfare of the Trump presidency, and that places victims of sexual assault in the national spotlight. The next great culture war in American life is erupting in front of our eyes.

At 10am this morning - 3pm in the UK - Dr Christine Blasey Ford will give testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She will say that President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, attempted to rape her when they were both teenagers in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Donald Trump has denounced Democratic efforts to block Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation as a cynical “con job” Credit: AP

Kavanaugh will also have an opportunity to defend himself. And then Senators must figure out who is lying: The little-known accuser who has no obvious motive to be putting herself through this ordeal, or the Judge who is already one of the most senior legal figures in America.

I wouldn’t bet on Kavanaugh surviving the next 48 hours despite the determination of Republican leaders.

Other accusers have emerged, all suggesting that Dr Ford is telling the truth. One woman says she was gang raped by a group of high-school boys and that Kavanaugh was in the room at the time.

Another (anonymous) woman alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly sexually assaulted a friend in a bar as recently as 1998.

Donald Trump has launched dismissive attacks on Kavanaugh's accusers Credit: AP

All of this testimony will play out in front of 21 Senators - 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats - and a television audience of tens of millions.

But also observing the political circus will be traumatised survivors of sexual assaults.

The Kavanaugh hearings are opening up old wounds and reminding them that even today America is a society that trusts men more than women, the accused more than the accusers.

The eyes of America will be on a dark, wood-panelled room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and on a research psychologist who is recalling events from 36 years ago. Christine Ford will need all the composure and courage in the world.